E-Communicator Article

Port Authority Sets Toll Jump for Trucks Crossing into NYC

By: Timothy Cama, Transport Topics

Tolls for trucks entering New York City from New Jersey will more than double over the next five years, a larger increase than originally proposed.

The trucking industry pushed to shield trucks from the higher toll increases, but the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, bowing to political pressure, trimmed its proposed increases for automobiles and instead boosted increases for trucks.

A 5-axle truck using E-ZPass during peak hours will pay $90 to cross in 2015, a 125% increase over the current $40. During off-peak hours, that truck will pay $85, a 143% increase from the current $35. Trucks using cash will incur a surcharge of $3 per axle.

“We’re quite livid,” Kendra Adams, executive director of the New York State Motor Truck Association, said about the toll structure the Port Authority enacted Aug. 19.

“We’re very disappointed; we’re angry,” she said.

American Trucking Associations joined the debate Aug. 25, sending a strongly worded letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) arguing that the increases will “devastate trucking companies who serve the New York City area” and “increase the cost of doing business” in the region.

“I hope you will veto this ill-conceived proposal,” ATA President Bill Graves wrote, asking the governors to work with the industry to find a better solution. Either governor’s veto would stop the plan, and ATA threatened “legal and legislative options” should the toll increases go through.

Truck tolls will increase by $2 per axle in each year until 2015 on Port Authority bridges and tunnels, which go from New Jersey to New York , the Port Authority said in a statement after its vote. Those crossings are the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel, the Goethals Bridge, the Outerbridge Crossing and the Bayonne Bridge.

The first round of increases will start in September, with subsequent ones taking effect in December 2012 and each year thereafter.

The Port Authority released a proposal Aug. 5 that would have put truck tolls at $80 during peak hours for E-ZPass users, a plan that the trucking industry opposed as being too drastic.

Cuomo and Christie, responding to public opposition to proposed toll increases for automobiles, urged the agency to reconsider and negotiated the current plan. Either governor has the power to veto toll increases.

While the new plan has smaller increases for cars, it shifts costs to the trucking industry, Adams said.

“We’re very disappointed and discouraged in both Gov. Cuomo and Gov. Christie,” Adams said “They’re the ones that actually negotiated this plan and put the plan forward to the Port Authority.”

Jim Runk, president of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, was similarly disappointed in the Port Authority’s decision.

“I don’t think this is the right time to be putting increases in like this,” he said. “The kinds of increases that they want, they’re just astronomical.” Due to Pennsylvania’s close proximity to New York City, trucks from the state often use Port Authority bridges and tunnels.

“The trucking industry has been assumed a cash cow by states all around the country,” said Mike Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut. “It’s going to increase the cost of living in the Northeast.”

“The states ought to be doing things to attract businesses to the Northeast,” he added. “And increasing the cost of transportation significantly is counter to that objective.”

Adams and the New Jersey Motor Truck Association wrote letters to both governors asking them to push for plans with lower truck tolls, but “obviously that fell on deaf ears,” she said.

Since the first round of increases is so close, the trucking groups will focus on urging the Port Authority and the governors to consider making the upcoming toll increases smaller for trucks, Adams said.

Used with permission of Transport Topics Publishing Group,
Copyright ©2011 American Trucking Associations, Inc.

September 2011 - CMSA Communicator

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